Sort & Cull

What to Do While Waiting for the Fall Run

ShayLe Stewart
By  ShayLe Stewart , DTN Livestock Analyst
As cattle contracts come off an ambitious summer and patiently wait for the market's fall run, there are different things cattlemen should watch in the meantime. (DTN file photo)

The end of summer marks a pivotal time for cattlemen. Pre-conditioning needs to take place, wrapping up second cutting is a priority, and getting ready for weaning is among the top priorities for ranches across the United States.

But the weeks surrounding Labor Day are especially peculiar as the market endures some minor changes and sits idly until the fall run. The market has sold a plethora of calves and feeder cattle that are already committed to buyers, but the true "fall run" won't start until mid-October -- leaving cattlemen a couple of weeks to prepare.

In the meantime, boxed beef prices usually set a short-term top as retailers have already stocked up on meat for Labor Day and post-Labor Day buying is minimal. Cash cattle prices usually see a minor setback as packers are cautious not to overpay while boxed beef prices are adjusting, and this year in particular packers are sitting on an exuberant supply of cattle as they've been buying upwards of 80,000 to 130,000 head for the last nine weeks.

In this time, cattlemen have a tendency to check out of the marketplace as their calves aren't scheduled to hit the market for another month or so, and things are moving in a lackadaisical manner throughout the entire cattle complex.

But instead of sitting back and later having to play massive catch-up during the week your cattle sell, stay attuned to the market in order to take some of the emotional stress out of shipping. Over the next month, pay attention to the nation's feeder cattle sales to gauge how many feeders are moving and what they are selling for. Pay attention to the cash cattle market's business as buyers will be more aggressive if they're getting paid more for fat cattle. And watching boxed beef prices could be another market to keep tabs on as retail demand can swoon the market one way or another and gravely affect both live cattle and feeder cattle prices.


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ShayLe Stewart can be reached at


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